Decreasing Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Charli Saltzman

Seeing Eye teaches its students many things, one of which is getting our dogs used to being alone. It is not uncommon to have a dog with separation anxiety. Many dogs display their anxiety by destroying or damaging anything in sight if you leave them alone. However, it is possible to decrease this separation anxiety. You as a dog owner have the ability to alleviate some of this fear of being separated from you.

Many dogs are fine with being alone. I know that, when I leave and cannot take Joba, he is fine, but as I am leaving, he looks at me with these very sad puppy eyes. This is the reaction of a lot of dogs whose owners leave them home. However, what about those dogs that are really stressed out, or what about a new dog? Here’s what you want to do. Put your dog in a secure place, a place of comfort to the dogs. If, for example, this secure place is a crate, leave your dog in their occasionally when you are still around. After doing this a while, step out of the room. If when you leave, you hear your dog start to whine, go back in and quietly but firmly tell the dog to be quiet. Once your dog settles down, leave again. You want to increase the amount of time you leave your dog alone. Once your dog is able to be in a crate in a room alone, it is time to begin the harder part. Leave your dog there as you go outside. If when you go back in and your dog is not acting up, you know that your dog is fine with being left alone. Now here’s the interesting part. You will make your dog feel better if you do not prolong your goodbye.

Dogs read how we are feeling. They can tell through your tone of voice. If you hang all over your dog, giving it hugs and kisses, and say goodbye over and over again, your dog is going to think that maybe you’re not coming back. Telling your dog you will miss him so so much will stress the dog out. Instead, give your dog a gentle pat and a short goodbye. When you come home later, don’t greet your dog right away. Do something else for a few minutes before you say hello to your dog. When you say hello to your dog, be calm. Don’t act excited. This will encourage a behavior that you don’t want. At least, as a guide dog owner, I don’t want it. I want my dog to be excited when I return, but I don’t want him jumping all over me. If you dramatically say goodbye and hello, this will start a cycle of separation anxiety behavior. On the other hand, if you act calmly both when you leave and when you return, your dog will treat it as no big deal. He will think: Well she’s not making a big deal out of it, so evidently it’s okay if she leaves me.

I used to always have to put Joba in a crate if I left him. He would always chew on things if he was allowed to roam the house or even my bedroom. Now, however, we’ve gotten to the point where he does not have to be in a kennel. I can trust him alone in the house, both here at my apartment and at home in Milford. Eventually, your dog will probably gain your trust, and you will be able to let him run free in the house without worrying. However, this takes time.

Finally, one more thing to consider is the breed of dog. Seeing Eye told us that, because German shepherds are a one-owner dog, they tend to get extremely attached. These dogs could have trouble with separation anxiety, especially if its owner is new. Labs, on the other hand, tend to be very calm. I’ve never had problems with either of my dogs becoming overly anxious. I will post some links below describing the breeds that might be more beneficial depending on a person’s lifestyle. Hopefully all of this information will assist you in helping your dog cope with being separated from you. After all, that dog will learn to appreciate solitude, and so will you.





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